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Johnson & Johnson's CFO On COVID-19 Trial Pause: 'We Are Letting The Science Dictate'

Johnson & Johnson's CFO On COVID-19 Trial Pause: 'We Are Letting The Science Dictate'

COVID-19 vaccine developer Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) paused an ongoing trial Monday due to an unexplained illness, although it's unknown if the individual in question was given the vaccine or a placebo, J&J CFO Joseph Wolk said on CNBC's "Squawk Box."

What Happened: J&J is following all of the established safety protocols, including the pause in the trial, Wolk said.

Such an event is not uncommon, especially in a large trial of 60,000 people, he said. 

Related Link: The Daily Biotech Pulse: J&J Pauses Coronavirus Vaccine Studies, Voyager's Huntington's Disease Study Placed On Hold, Altimmune Vaccine Data

"It probably should be somewhat expected that you see a pause for an unexpected adverse event and we are just letting the science dictate here." 

In the meantime, the public should be reminded that every scientific, medical and ethical standard remains in place at J&J and rival vaccine makers, the CFO said. 

Why It's Important: J&J was advised around 36 hours ago of an adverse event, Wolk said.

Unlike AstraZeneca plc (NASDAQ: AZN), which placed a hold its own vaccine study, J&J enacted a pause, he said. 

The key difference is that a hold often comes at the order of a regulatory health authority, while a pause is a proper procedure to investigate an adverse reaction, the CFO said. 

What's Next: The investigators will have full knowledge of who was given a placebo and who was given the vaccine, while management has no idea the group with which the individual belongs, Wolk said. 

The analysis from the independent group should be completed in "short order," and the company will then understand how it can proceed with a trial, he said. 

JNJ Price Action: Johnson & Johnson shares were down 2.45% at $148.13 at last check Tuesday. 


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